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    United States Attorney's Office
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    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

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    Release No. 08-159

    December 31, 2008


    Sam Ching Sheng Lee, Part-Owner and Chief Operations Manager of Multimillion Business Associate Corporation (“MBA”), and his nephew, Charles Yu Hsu Lee, made initial appearances in United Stated District Court in Los Angeles today on federal charges related to a conspiracy to procure and illegally export sensitive technology to the People’s Republic of China.

    Sam Lee, 63, native of China, and Charles Lee, 31, native of Taiwan, were arrested on Tuesday morning in Hacienda Heights, California.  Both men are charged in an indictment filed on December 16, 2008, and unsealed today with felony counts of conspiracy and exporting national security controlled items without a license in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and Export Administration Regulations.        

    The indictment alleges that Sam Lee and Charles Lee, doing business as MBA, an import/export business located in Hacienda Heights, assisted persons in China to illegally procure export controlled thermal-imaging cameras.  During the period between April 2002 and July 2007, defendants allegedly exported a total of ten thermal-imaging cameras to China in circumvention of export laws.  After being advised of strict export restrictions, Charles Lee allegedly purchased the cameras from U.S. suppliers for approximately $9,500 a piece by withholding the fact that the devices were destined to China.  His uncle, Sam Lee, then received the devices and through his Hacienda Heights company, arranged for their shipment to Shanghai, China without obtaining proper licenses.  One of the recipients is alleged to be an employee of a company in Shanghai engaged in the development of infrared technology.         

    The thermal-imaging cameras are controlled for export to China by the Department of Commerce for national security and regional stability reasons because of their use in a wide variety of military and civilian applications.  At no time did Sam Lee or Charles Lee have authorization in the form of a license from the Department of Commerce to export the thermal-imaging cameras to China.

    “Combating the illegal flow of highly sensitive U.S. technology to foreign countries is vital to our national security, ” said United States Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien.  “The multi-agency efforts leading to the arrests in this case demonstrate our unyielding dedication to aggressively prosecute those who engage in such conduct.”    
    If convicted, both men face a maximum statutory penalty of 25 years in federal prison.

    An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime.  Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt

    This case was the result of an investigation by the Export and Anti-proliferation Global Law Enforcement (EAGLE) Task Force. The counter-proliferation task force was recently created by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California in conjunction with federal law enforcement agencies to jointly investigate and combat the illegal export of arms and sensitive technology.  The members of the EAGLE Task Force involved in this investigation include the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the  Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export and Enforcement.


    Release No. 08-159
    Return to the 2008 Press Release Index